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I'm Rafael Caetano dos Santos.

I am from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I began to play go many years ago. I reached 1-kyu in 1 year and half (as far as I can remember), but then stopped playing regularly. In 2000 I started to play again and have been progressing quite slowly, but enjoying the game even more than before. I have lived in Fukuoka, Japan, where I took my Master's degree on CGT and Go under Dr. Nakamura Teigo. Now that I live in Tokyo, the place with most go clubs on Earth, I don't play go anymore...

Been to the first game of the Meijin title match between Yamashita Keigo and Yoda Norimoto Meijin. It was held in a hotel in Kitakyushu, about one hour by train from Fukuoka.

As you all know, mere mortals cannot enter the playing room. But I didn't know I'd have to pay 1000 yen (about U$8) just to enter the hall. To see Umezawa Yukari's talkshow, which was to be held in the afternoon in _another_ place, there was an additional 500 yen. Not a big deal though, all the more taking into account that pros don't come often to Kyushu (the Southern island). The hall was packed with go fans. As expected most were middle-aged and above but there were quite a few kids. Michael Redmond and Kato Keiko came to comment the game, play simultaneous teaching games and, as I found out later, to entertain the public.

Unfortunately I got almost 1 hour late so I couldn't apply for the teaching game. The pro game itself had been advancing quite quickly: almost 50 moves had been played in little more than 1 hour. But then Yoda started to think a lot. Just as Redmond and Kato seemed to run out of comments and speculations, someone came to announce the start of the teaching games.

As soon as the games started, most people went to watch them. Redmond got to play 9 kids and youngsters, while Kato played 9 'veterans'. It was not the first time I saw a pro giving a simultaneous teaching game, but even so I was impressed. They hardly stop to think at all, although during some fights they thought for about 10 seconds or so.

One of the 2 youngsters was a 4-dan from the university go club. He took 4 stones. I guess he was nervous, or rather, he felt the pressure of playing a pro, and so didn't play very well. His look was quite different from the calm way that he usually plays.

One of the kids, a shy little girl, didn't seem to be enjoying the game. I wondered if she was there by her own will... but then I thought that maybe it was her shyness. Actually, she was playing very seriously! There were many people around the boards, so when I finally got to see her game I realized that she was doing pretty well. She took only 4 stones, so she must be 4-dan!

Kato Keiko also seemed to be very serious. Not that her games were difficult, of course, but she seemed to be play like a strict, implacable teacher. However, suddenly she would stop to think a little, make a funny face as if she were thinking 'this is trick', and strike her own head like a kid... so lovely! I fell in love with her. :-)

Unfortunately there was no time to finish the teaching games. Redmond made a quick comment for each of his games, but I couldn't figure whether the shy girl still had chances. Then there was a pause for lunch.

(to be continued... or not, since this account is not exactly exciting)

DJ: Please, continue!
I find these tales really entertaining, as they show us (so far from Japan!) a glimpse of the Japanese pro world.

Thanks, DJ, I guess I just needed some feedback. :-)

After the lunch, Redmond and Kato went back to the magnetic board to commment the game. Redmond proved to be quite an entertainer. I couldn't understand much of what he said but, well, I could see the reaction of the public. :-) Now Kato didn't seem so imposing anymore. She was rather like an obedient student. She basically stood there and said "yes... yes... oh, I see" in reply to Redmond's comments. Not surprising, though.

Then there was the "what is the next move?" game. They turned off the monitors and each of us was given a piece of paper in which we should write name, rank and the move. Redmond commented on a few moves, and Kato showed her guess. I think it would be better if they made the comments after the guesses had been turned in. But then weaker players would have little chance.

Then Otake Hideo turned up. He was very grave, and the public fell into complete silence. He made some comments but I think it didn't add much to what Redmond had said.

I didn't notice it myself, but I was told later that Kato made a slip. Although the 2 TVs were turned off, there were still 2 monitors on the floor turned to the pros. Eventually Yamashita made the move, Kato saw it and started to say something about it but suddenly realized the slip and stopped. Some people noticed and so got the correct move. It was the move she had guessed, by the way (hmm, now I wonder, did he moved before her guessing?). Each of the 20-odd winners got a little gift. The guy beside me got a small clock.

At 16h30 the hall was closed and we headed for Umezawa's talkshow, featuring Kato Masao (ironical, uh?).

RafaelCaetano last edited by on January 6, 2009 - 20:48
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